Revealing the Shadow Self
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
The letter of 2 Corinthians is Paul's magnum opus on facing down the shadow self. Over and over again in this little letter he faces the reality that there are parts to ourselves and, specifically, parts of himself, that are not very pretty. I wonder if he focuses so much on the shadow self in this book because the "super apostles" were such an influence in Corinth. Chapters 10-13 are his direct confrontation with the "super apostles," but Paul takes the same approach throughout the letter.
Paul's main approach is to out himself. To expose his failures. To name his weakness. To acknowledge his need of God and his need of others.
Revealing the shadow self is the surest way to defeat it. We often try to hide it, to deny it, to protect it, or to minimize it. Paul doesn't. He just puts it out there, freely admiring that he doesn't have it all together. And like the proverbial monster in the closet, once the door is open and the light is on, the monster no longer is so frightening.
Paul can expose himself for one crucial reason. He knows he's loved by God. We'll look at that more the next couple of days, but take time today to really wrestle with this question: If you really, truly knew you were deeply loved by God, what kind of freedom would that give you to acknowledge your sins, weaknesses, and failures?